Open Letter to Justin Trudeau, Freedom of Speech is a Charter Right

February 19, 2016

Dear Prime Minister;

As a former human rights observer with the International Solidarity Movement, and one who has witnessed numerous human rights violations on the part of the Israeli military, police and settlers first hand I am gravely concerned by the motion coming before the House sponsored by Tony Clement and Michelle Rempel:

That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.

This motion is a direct attack on the fundamental freedom of speech for Canadians as laid out in Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement typically do so because of the state of Israel’s violations of the 4th Geneva Convention as determined by the International Court of Justice and its daily breeches  of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The first hand experience of myself and many other volunteers in Palestine and Israel, along with reports from such other trusted international human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as pro-peace Israeli human rights groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights, B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence have all provided direct evidence of Israeli breeches of international treaties and laws. Additionally, these groups have documented the intimidation and provocation of Palestinians on a daily basis by the Israeli military and paramilitary forces as well as by illegal Israeli settlers as well as the daily intimidation and abuse of children who have to run a gauntlet of tear gas and stun grenades on their way to school every day which is in direct violation of the UN Convention on the treatment of children.

If this bill passes it will mean that Canadians will have less-rights to exercise free speech and engage in public debate than Jewish Israelis who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Further, this motion is rooted in Israeli sponsored hazbara that attempts to portray those who criticize Israel as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

Meanwhile, I believe that the state of Israel has a right to exist and I call upon it to respect the rulings of the International Court of Justice and to live up to its treaty obligations and international human rights and humanitarian laws.

To state that those of us who support BDS are, and I quote, “anti-Semitic” is totally misleading.  Those who know me, know that I am in no way anti-Semitic.

I urge you to vote against this motion. I would be pleased to discuss this matter with you.

Henry Evans-Tenbrinke

Member of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and the Hamilton Mountain NDP Riding Association.

One thought on “Open Letter to Justin Trudeau, Freedom of Speech is a Charter Right”

  1. By e-mail:

    Mr Trudeau:

    It is with significant dismay that I read about our governments collusion with the CPC in condemning people who support the BDS movement in Canada. BDS is a nonviolent group dedicated to the fair treatment of the Palestinian people. Israel is a Human rights abuser AND an apartheid state. Israel’s insistence on continuing to build on occupied territory and their persistent displacement of Palestinians is not only a severe breach of international law but it is also an abuse of human rights. I am beyond angry that my government AND the party with which I am aligned would DARE to attempt to condemn the process of free speech and free thought. BDS is not a movement of hate, it is a movement of conscience. The continued alignment of my country’s government AND my party with Israel cannot be tolerated AND the very suggestion that you would legislate in an effort to silence opposing opinion is absolutely Orwellian. I cannot speak in strong enough terms when I insist that you reverse your decision on this matter.

    Michael Davidson

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